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Berserk

a.k.a. Kenfu Denki Berserk

berserk-3
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: OLM
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 10/8/1997 to 4/1/1998

Gatts has never had an easy life. From when he was born of his dead mother’s womb, he has had to fight for everything. Quickly becoming one of the best at killing, Gatts is forced into joining a rising band of mercenaries lead by the charismatic Griffith. Their meteoric rise to power and fame is soon matched by a terror that leads them to the very depths of evil; the terrifying evil that resides in all men, and the lust for power that can possess a man completely.

summary by Mugs

 

Reviewed: 04/08/2004 by
Grade: 90% av-Gatts

Highs: Memorable characters; captivating plot; great music

Lows: Unsatisfying ending; large changes from manga

Kentaro Miura managed to create one of the most engrossing fantasy series with Berserk. The dark world of Midland comes to life in this series, based on the popular manga series. The characters are simply incredible. It has one of the best developed and most interesting cast of characters. Most of the characters have their own detailed history, which helps to create some of the most realistic anime characters in recent memory.

The plot to Berserk is original and captivating from the start. Its characters help to present the dark and often disturbing tale. The pacing is fast with graphically brutal action sequences, but with a complex storyline which makes the action more meaningful. Unfortunately, it concludes at the climax of the story leaving you to guess how it ends. Adding to it all is a powerful soundtrack composed by Hirazawa Susumu.

Fans of the manga should know that the anime has a fair share of differences from the manga. Some major characters and events have been omitted from the anime, and the violence has been toned down in certain parts. On the whole though, the anime succeeds in portraying the story and characters in an accurate manner.

Berserk is one of my personal favorites, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a mature fantasy title with great characters and an intriguing plot.

 

Reviewed: 05/28/2004 by
Grade: 94% av-Mugs

Highs: Not your usual story; great characters and action; twist ending; great soundtrack

Lows: Feels unfinished, especially compared to the manga

Wow. That’s all you can say when you finish watching this anime. There have been a number of anime lately with great endings, prime examples being Cowboy Bebop, and this one right here. The series seems perfect in its relentless pace and buildup towards the conclusion. There are no filler episodes in this series; every single one seems to impact the main storyline. The ending leaves you very emotionally drained and confused, but simultaneously longing for more. While rumors of a second season have been around since the first one concluded, your best bet is to track down the manga which continues the story nicely and is still ongoing, as of this review date.

The characters in this story all have distinct personalities and the real nice part is that even the smaller roles are fleshed out through their dialogue. We find out about their past, their hopes and ambitions for their future. Of special note for me is Judeau, who plays the listener for most of the main characters in the show. I loved how his role played out, especially some revelations in the last episode. You will care about these characters, and caring really makes the story work.

The show relies on frequent action scenes, and unlike some other anime (*cough DBZ *cough) all are well animated and often very inventive. Seeing Gatts battle demons with a unique weapon, fighting against a hundred men, or crushing evil with his trusty Dragonslayer in the first episode is always a treat. Be warned that this show is quite bloody for a television series, and those of you with weak stomachs will feel them turn once or twice in the course of this series.

Overall, an amazing series that is just crying for the rest of the manga to receive the anime treatment. You should definitely get your hands on this one.

 

Reviewed: 05/03/2002 by
Grade: 88% av-Kain

Highs: Story flows like water; not your typical fantasy characters; each episode leaves you wanting more

Lows: The last episode leaves you wanting too much more; animation is a bit crude for my tastes

What appeals to me about Berserk is its straightforward, no-nonsense approach to story telling. Normally such a technique does not lend itself well to innovation, but the plot is so riveting and the pacing of events so smooth that it gives the impression of something new. Hey, I’ll take faux innovation over genuine prosaicness any day of the week when it comes to my anime.

This series starts off innocently enough. I was under the impression going in that this was just going to be another in a line of violently gory, medieval anime. Indeed, Berserk is not for the faint of heart; the bulk of the story revolves around Gatts slaughtering soldiers by the hundreds (to which he receives the name Century Slayer) in great detail.

To leave it there would be selling this anime short, however. The real meat of this series is character interaction. The protagonists in this story aren’t conveniently chummy with one another; there is real strife between those involved, and the drama play is conveyed convincingly enough. What impressed me the most, though, was the starkly frank and unabashed nature in which events unfold. If there’s one thing I can say about Berserk is that it pulls no punches; it’s the gritty realism and the way each episode ends on a cliffhanger that left me frustratingly anxious to catch the next episode.

And then we get to the ending, or what some perceive to be the ending. Yes, it takes an unexpectedly odd twist and leaves the audience hanging. There is no doubt that this anime’s conclusion has caused one of the largest debates among otaku circles and some of the loudest cries for a sequel. Despite what I think is an overdose of cel stills during fights, you can count me in for that sequel, as well.

 

Reviewed: 05/11/2002 by
Grade: 91% av-Keitaro

Highs: Characters; captivating and original story; filled with twists

Lows: The ending

In the crowded genre of action shows, Berserk manages to get it right and pull itself miles above competition. From the animation to the story to the deep characters, this anime is a real winner.

A guy with a huge sword and a lust for blood just as large is what I was expecting, and I was also expecting Berserk to be very boring. Far from it. I was on the edge of my seat nearly the entire time; not because of the suspense, but because I was sucked into the story so deeply. This is one anime that is not afraid to take chances and break off from the rest with a daring and original plot that filled with twists. While it may be a tiny bit predictable, anyone who says they know how things are going to end is lying.

While Gatts seemed boring and shallow at first, he really grew on me quickly and became one of my favorite characters of all time. The entire cast is creative and memorable; each one will leave a lasting impression on you, even the minor ones. As for the action scenes, they are pure gold. Unlike Record of Lodoss War and Dragonball Z, there are no reused cels. The battle scenes are animated like nothing else. Even the one-on-one fight between Gatts and Griffith is extremely well done. There are just so many good things about this series I could go on all day.

Anybody who has seen this series knows what the biggest problem is; the ending. Rather than spoil it, take a word of advice: re-watch the first episode after finishing the last one. Berserk is full of blood, gore, and nudity; those with a weak stomach may be a little disturbed by some of the more gruesome scenes. As for everyone else, this is absolutely a must see.

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